PETALING JAYA: Selangor and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are expecting a much tougher battle in the second leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-final at the Shah Alam Stadium on Oct 26.
The Southern Tigers have the upper hand after edging the Red Giants 2-1 at the Larkin Stadium on Saturday but JDT coach Benjamin Mora said the result leaves the tie hanging and told his players to be prepared for an intense battle on the eve of Deepavali.
Malaysia striker Syafiq Ahmad drew first blood in the 15th minute but Selangor’s Nigerian sensation Ifedayo Olusegun equalised for Selangor a minute later.
JDT had the last laugh when Leandro Velazquez fired home a stinging shot from outside the penalty box in the 49th minute.
Mora said JDT faced a team that like to play good football and made life difficult for them in Larkin.
“The commitment and adrenaline that the players felt sometimes made this game a little bit more balanced than normal.
“We did a good job. We played the game as we should. Working hard and trying to win every individual duel. We have a one-goal advantage but it’s still an open game. We are going to Shah Alam to get a good result, ” said the Mexican.
JDT’s top striker Diogo Santo was missing from the game with an injury and Syafiq played in his position.
Many expected the team to miss the Brazilian sorely but Mora said his absence just changed their game plan.
“It’s only different. It doesn’t affect or help us. Syafiq is a different player. He’s a little bit more of a false nine who likes to make diagonal runs. Diogo drops a little bit more to get the ball, he is more creative.
“We miss Diogo but that doesn’t mean we can’t function without him. We are a collective team.”
Selangor coach B. Sathianathan said his boys worked their socks off in the match but will have to double that work rate in Shah Alam if they want to reach the final.
“We were haywire in the first half. When we had the ball, we lost it quickly. In the second half, there were chances and as the game progressed, we looked confident.
“JDT are a good team, I always respect them. For JDT, home and away is the same, they’ve got good quality players.”
Sathianathan said his players will now be hoping that their fans will ramp up the atmosphere in Shah Alam.
“It’s a good sign but the work is not over. We will be playing a day before Deepavali. My mother will be angry but it’s my job to lead the team.
“We’ve to work harder than we did today. This result gives us some confidence but the battle is not over.”
semi-finals, first-legMALAYSIA CUP RESULTS
KEDAH 3 PAHANG 3
JDT 2 SELANGOR 1